Winter Rules

Twelve hot tips that, if followed closely, guarantee an epic ski season.

Dec 2, 2010
Outside Magazine

Thanks to La Niña, expect lots of days like this at Jackson Hole.    Photo: Bob Woodall/Focus Productions

La Niña Is Queen
If you like your powder fresh and deep, make a beeline for the Pacific Northwest. "For Oregon, Washington, all the way up to British Columbia, it should be a good year," says Mike Halpert, deputy director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate-prediction center. That's probably putting it mildly: La Niña cools Pacific Ocean temperatures by four to five degrees, diverting wet, cold weather patterns toward the Pacific Northwest and bringing dry winters to the Southwest. And NOAA experts predict this will be the strongest La Niña since 1988: Oregon's Mount Bachelor saw its first snowfall in August. "The areas affected will see 15 to 20 percent more snow," says Tony Crocker, an actuary based in Southern California who has spent 12 years analyzing NOAA's snowfall data to predict La Niña's effect on ski resorts. "But the 15 ski areas that are traditionally hit heaviest could see much more." Among those resorts are Bridger Bowl, Montana; Whistler and Fernie, British Columbia; and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (Yes, La Niña reaches that far east.) Book tickets now for typically uncrowded periods, such as the first two weeks of December and the third week of April.